BUSINESS

Sweden seeks the arrest of 2 Britons for masterminding garlic smuggling ring

01/09/2013 11:42 EST | Updated 03/11/2013 05:12 EDT
STOCKHOLM - Swedish prosecutors have issued international arrest warrants for two Britons suspected of masterminding a smuggling ring involving over a ton of Chinese garlic.

The men allegedly first shipped the garlic to Norway by boat, where it entered the country duty-free since it was considered to be in transit, prosecutor Thomas Ahlstrand said Wednesday.

They then drove the approximately 1.2 tons of garlic across the expansive Norwegian-Swedish border, avoiding customs checks and thus Swedish import duties.

Ahlstrand said the men avoided some US$13.1 million in Swedish taxes through the scheme.

A lengthy police investigation led to the identification of the two British men allegedly behind the Swedish operation, which took place in 2009-2010.

It was not the first time smugglers have shown a preference for garlic from China, which accounts for nearly 80 per cent of world output and is often significantly cheaper than local varieties.

In 2010, Polish authorities seized six containers with 144 tons of Chinese garlic that had been smuggled into the country via the Netherlands.

It was not immediately clear whether the Polish smuggling was linked to the Swedish case.